Serena Williams (Madrid Open)*Former world no. 1, Serena Williams, is still considered to be on the comeback trail, given her spotty participation of late in the sport she’s arguably dominated for the last 16 years.  The on again, off again, 13-time Slam champion has survived various injuries and other setbacks to keep finding herself lurking somewhere in the top ten in the world upon each return.

Currently, after her last string of life-threatening health issues and minor setbacks, Serena Williams is back in good health and good form and finds herself ranked at #9.  With that, she’s earned herself the opportunity to prove what most tennis prognosticators agree on: she’s the best player in the world when she’s healthy and focused.

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As a clay court tune-up event for the year’s second Grand Slam, The French Open, Serena has spent this week eliminating the otherwise-capable women in her draw on the controversial blue clay at the Madrid Open, including demolishing hard-hitting world no. 2 and her arch nemesis, Maria Sharapova.  She only lost one set along the way, to free-falling former world no. 1, Caroline Wozniacki, with impressive final scorelines.

On Saturday, after knocking out big serving Czech, Lucie Hradecka, 7-6, 6-0, in the semifinals, she’s now secured a spot in the final against current world no. 1, Victoria Azarenka.   Her head-to-head record against the talented Belarusian – who’s currently riding a white-hot winning streak, is 6-1.  All of tennisdom has been salivating for the point-proving match up.

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If Williams downs Azarenka – who defeated 3rd-ranked Pol, Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) for the sixth straight time to secure her spot – in the Madrid final, she will have again proven her ability to dart in and out of tennis as the true world no. 1 and one who has the superior talent to upset the ranking apple cart at her leisure.   A Madrid Open championship win will also position her as the favorite going into the French Open, giving her the confidence and the incentive to end her Grand Slam drought of almost two years, and even longer drought on clay – her weakest surface, it’s been 10 years.

Game on.